Stars Fall Despite Dominating First 13 Minutes

Versteeg, Khabibulin lead Blackhawks to 6-3 win

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville liked the way the Blackhawks finished a lot more than the way they started.

Kris Versteeg scored the tiebreaking power-play goal with 30 seconds left in the second period, Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 31 shots, and the Blackhawks overcame a lethargic beginning to beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 on Thursday night.

Dallas dominated the first 13 minutes with a 10-1 shots-on-goal edge. But Khabibulin made 12 first-period saves and Chicago tied it at 1 with 37 seconds left in the first period on Patrick Kane's wrister from the left circle.

"We didn't like the way we started the game," Quenneville said. "We were fortunate to be in it. But those goals late in a period are big goals."

The 35-year-old Khabibulin improved to 6-1-4.

"He's been doing that all year," Versteeg said. "We were a little sluggish early and he kept us in it."

Kane added an empty-netter with 15.9 seconds left, and the Blackhawks improved to 2-0 to open a six-game road trip.

Martin Havlat, Ben Eager and Brian Campbell added goals for Chicago.

With the score even at 3 in the closing seconds of the second period, Versteeg sped around three Stars and skated to the front of the net, beating Dallas goalie Marty Turco for Versteeg's seventh goal of the season.

"I tried to take it wide, then take it hard to the net," Versteeg said. "We're really coming on, playing great on the road."

Havlat fired a shot past a screened Turco at 6:40 of the third period to extend the lead to 5-3, and the Blackhawks went on to win their third straight on the road.

Brenden Morrow, Mike Modano and rookie James Neal scored for the slumping Stars, who failed in a bid for their first consecutive victories of the season. Modano has 534 career goals, extending his record for U.S.-born players.

"It's real frustrating," Stars defenseman Stephane Ribidas said. "We had high expectations, but you look at the standings and we're at the bottom. With the talent we have, that's unacceptable."

Morrow's rebound put the Stars in front at 7:37 of the opening period before Kane's last-minute goal tied it.

"I think we played a great first period, but we had a breakdown and we were tied," Stars center Brad Richards said. "We couldn't carry that momentum into the second period. It's been a tough climb."

Chicago went in front 2-1 at 6:44 of the second period when Eager skated in alone and beat Turco from the right circle, but Dallas tied it at 2 on Modano's power-play goal at 7:50 of the second period.

Campbell answered for the Blackhawks with a man-advantage goal at 9:08 of the second period for a 3-2 advantage.

Neal pulled Dallas even at 3 on a rebound at 16:06 of the second period, but the Stars wouldn't score again.

The Stars were expected to be Stanley Cup contenders this season, but they've been among the Western Conference bottom feeders all season.

Allowing goals in the final minute of all three periods made for another long night for the Stars.

"Those are back-breakers, and those are the times we kind of take pride in," Modano said. "That's a a byproduct of what's been happening this season."

Notes:@ The Stars have lost six of their last eight. ... RW Jere Lehtinen, Dallas' best defensive forward, was scratched and will be out a week and a half with what the club termed an "upper-body" injury. Lehtinen missed the first 14 games because of a groin injury, played in three games, and then sustained a different injury. ... D Darryl Sydor played his first game with the Stars this season after being acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh on Sunday. It is Sydor's third stint with the Stars. ... Chicago had lost 10 of its previous 11 road games against Dallas. ... The Stars have allowed five or more goals a league-high eight times. ... Morrow sustained an undisclosed injury late in the third period and did not return.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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